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PERCEPTION (II. COMPARATIVE APPRAISAL), THEORIES OF. The American psychologist Floyd Henry Allport (18901978) reviewed and critiqued the major theories of perception and, subsequently, proposed his won perceptual theory of structure (called event-structure or enestruence), which holds that social structure has no anatomical or physical basis but consists of cycles of events that return on themselves to complete and maintain the cycle. Allport (1955) appraises the following 13 theories of perception: core-context, Gestalt, topological field, cell-assembly, sensory-tonic field, set and motor adjustments, adaptation-level, probabilistic functionalism, transactional functionalism, directive state, hypotheses, behavior, and cybernetic theories. The core-context theory of perception - formulated by the English-born American psychologist Edward Bradford Tit-chener (1867-1927), states that a perception consists of three items in its earlier stage: a number of sensations consolidated into a group under the laws of attention and the special properties of sensory connection; images from past experiences that supplement the sensations; and meaning (i.e., "context;" cf., atmosphere/context effects and context theory, which maintain that all behavior must be analyzed within the context in which it occurs). Allport considers the core-context theory to be parsimonious and in agreement with the limited range of facts used to support it; though the theory centers on "object meaning," it has a potentiality for generalization. The theory is weak, however, in logical consistency and explanatory value, but its chief merit is that it recognizes the part played in perception by "object" and "situational" meaning. The Gestalt theory of perception employs basic principles such as form-concept and isomorphism, field/forces, flexibility, transposition, symmetry, goodness of form, transformation, and organization. Within the area of Gestalt psychology, W. Kohler proposed the dynamic theory ("psychic dynamism"), according to which physiological processes are determined by dynamic conditions (e.g., by forces involved in the central nervous system field as a whole) rather than by structural conditions (e.g., neural structures and connections). The dynamic theory may be contrasted with the machine theory that states that physiological processes are machinelike and determined by constant conditions (e.g., by neural topography) rather than by dynamic conditions. Also, with the Gestalt psychology domain, M. Wertheimer proposed the short-circuit theory that states that phenomenal movement - such as the phi phenomenon - is due to a short-circuit between the regions of the brain excited by each stimulus, thereby giving rise to a new structured unity. Six major principles cover most of the Gestalt laws, and the Gestalt approach, demonstrations, and experimental exhibits. However, as many as 114 laws of gestalten have been formulated by various writers, but eventually they were edited down to a list of 14 principles. The Gestalt theory of perception is consistent, parsimonious, and based on a large number of experiments that support its phenomenological generalizations. However, concerning one of its speculations, called brain-field theory, the Gestalt approach has difficulties with the facts of brain physiology and has problems, also, with some genetic and clinical observations. K. Lewin's topological field theory of perception is an offshoot of the Gestalt movement in psychology and, although it makes use of the concept of fields and other related Gestalt principles and terms, it has no direct concern with physiological bases or isomorphism (i.e., the hypothesis that there is a point-by-point relationship between the two systems of excitatory fields in the cortex and conscious experience or between the perception of the stimulus and the brain). According to Allport, Lewin's field theory is short on logical consistency because it does not discriminate well between phe-nomenological and physicalistic data. The cell-assembly theory of perception, also called Hebb 's theory of perceptual learning - named after the Canadian psychologist Donald Old-ing Hebb (1904-1985), holds that perception is not an innate process but has to be learned. The theory maintains that a particular perception depends on the excitation of particular brain cells (cell assemblies) at some point in the central nervous system. In his theory, Hebb's rule states that the cellular basis of learning is determined by the strengthening of synapses that are active and practiced repeatedly when the postsynaptic neurons fire; cf., Mark II cell assembly theory - a supplement to Hebb's cell assembly theory that adds a model of inhibitory mechanisms and sensitization to establish the association of ideas. The cell assembly is Hebb's basic unit of perception and represents the physiological basis of the simplest percept (cf., reverberating circuit theory - states that a cell assembly may function as an independent unit within the brain, and may continue to respond to a stimulus even after the stimulus has been terminated; and the short-circuiting law - Hebb's speculation that the neurophysiological mechanism underlying the process of a physical activity or a mental process tends to become automatic, and no conscious effort of attention is used to perform a particular mental activity). In Hebb's phase sequence hypothesis, complex perceptions (called phase sequences) are formed out of the basic assemblies by the principles of mutual facilitation in conduction and consolidation in timing. The cell-assembly theory, according to Allport, is fairly logical, parsimonious, and built on facts of neuro-physiology, genetic development, and brain pathology; however, the theory has difficulty with the concept of equipotentiality (i.e., that all neurons mediating a given sensory modality have a common function), and does not handle well the aspects of dimension, constancy, and frame of reference. The sensory-tonic field theory of perception deals with the relationship between tonic events (e.g., changes in postural/muscular tension) and sensory events (e.g., a conscious experience such as a sensory quality). The attempt of sensory-tonic theory is to show that tonic factors interact with sensory factors in perception and that a "field" is present in which the body and the perceived object interact (cf., sensory conflict theory - is a proposed account of mo tion sickness according to which passive movement produces a mismatch between cues or information relating to orientation and movement provided by the visual and the vestibular systems, whereby such a mismatch creates feelings of nausea; and functional asymmetry hypothesis - is a poorly documented postulate that there is superiority in perception of ears or eyes on one side of the body for certain types of stimuli; for instance, the right ear excels in receiving verbal sounds whereas the left ear is better in receiving environmental sounds, or the left half-field of the eyes is better for face recognition, whereas the right half-field is better for reading tasks). The sensory-tonic theory is well supported by experimental findings, but it fails to explain the interrelation of sensory and tonic factors in a clear and logical manner. The set and motor adjustments theory of perception holds that set (i.e., a disposition to respond in a particular way; includes perceptual set, or Einstellung, and task-oriented set, or Aufgabe) - and the actual behaviors that prepare the organism -provides a basis for understanding the motor aspects of perception (cf., warm-up effects - in learning theory, this refers to the influence of preparation and set on the transfer and retention of materials to be learned). The set and motor adjustments theory is logical, unified, and based on experimental findings, and is in general agreement with motor physiology; however, according to Allport, the theory fails to unite exteroceptive sensory and motor elements in the perceptual process (cf., an early, curious, and nonperceptual principle concerning the relationship between sensory and motor events, called the law of dynamogenesis, which states that any change in sensory stimulation has a corresponding effect in altering muscular activity or tension; Baldwin, 1894; Triplett, 1898). The adaptation-level (AL) theory of perception is a formulation of sensory-context effects that maintains that the neutral, adapted background provides a standard against which new stimuli are perceived (cf., psychological law of relativity, which states that an experience is understood only in its relation to other experiences, as when the visual localization of an object depends on the perception of the relation of the object to the existing frame of reference). The AL theory has been extended from explanations in the area of sensory processes to those of attitudes and attitude change. AL theory states that the concept of adaptation-level represents a weighted geometric mean of all the stimuli that have been judged on a particular dimension. According to Allport, AL theory is logical, supported by experimental facts, and has good generalizability and parsimony; however, the theory does not seem applicable to the phenomena of configuration, and it falls short in interpreting the non-quantitative aspects of perceptual aggregates, including object and situational meaning. The probabilistic functionalism theory of perception - formulated by the Hungarian-born American psychologist Egon Brunswik (1903-1955) - argues that the veridical distal relationship with objects in the environment is dependent on the statistical validity of the cue-to-object relationships where the attainment of distal objects is never better than an approximate or "probable" achievement. The theory stresses that perception is a process of discovering which aspects of the stimulus provide the most useful or functional cues. The transac-tional theory of perception [most notably presented by the American psychologist/painter Adelbert Ames (1880-1955) in his famous "Ames distorted room" and "trapezoidal window" demonstrations, and traceable to the writings on vision in 1709 by the Irish philosopher Bishop George Berkeley (16851753)] is based on the notion that perception results from acquired, but unconscious, assumptions about the environment, represented as probabilities of transactions occurring within it. Thus, the relationship between probabilistic theory and transactional theory is very close: both deal with the "dimensional" aspect of perception, both are "molar," both rely on past experience, both give a strategic position to cues and their probabilistic weighting, both involve unconscious inferences or judgments of the perceiver, and both hold an intermediate ground between the stimulus object and some activity of the organism. The main difference, on the other hand, between the theories is that probabilistic theory is concerned with phenomenological "attainment" of perceptual objects, but trans-actional functionalism contains a more spe cific statement of the perceptual significance of action and purpose. The directive-state theory of perception divides the determinants of perception into two contrasting categories: the autochthonous (structural) aspects - including the stimulus and effects of stimulation on the receptors, afferent neurons, and sensory cortical areas; and the behavioral (motivational or "New Look") aspects - including the needs, tensions, values, defenses, and emotions of the perceiver (cf., the fashioning effect of role theory whereby the role adopted by the perceiver influences both that person's behavior and her/his self-perceptions). Corresponding to these are two contrasting programs of experiment and theory: the formal and the functional; taken together, the behavioral determinants form a central directive state where they may be viewed as independent variables in an experimental setting. Experimental evidence (which has not gone unchallenged) for the directive-state theory derives from six areas: the effect of bodily needs on what is perceived; the effect of reward and punishment on perceptual content; the influence of values on speed of object-recognition; effects of needs and values on the dimensionality of the percept; personality as a perceptual determinant; and the effect on perception of the emotionally disturbing nature of the stimulus-object. The directive-state theory, although it opened a new field of dynamic possibilities, doesn't offer enough agreement with the available facts; however, according to Allport, the theory does show the importance of taking individual cases into account. The hypothesis-theory of perception is a reformulation of the directive-state theory and argues that all cognitive processes, whether they take the form of perceiving, thinking, or recalling, represent hypotheses that are usually unconscious and that the organism sets up in a given situation. Such hypotheses require "answers" in the form of further experience that will either confirm or disprove them (for the same notion in a learning context, see Restle, 1962). Adjustment of the organism to the environment proceeds by such a process of hypothesis confirmation or rejection. The hypothesis theory is in accord with experimental findings and draws together many of the discordant results of the directive-state experiments and moves, generally, in the direction of a unified theory. However, according to Allport, it is deficient in explanatory principles for hypothesis checking, stimulus-transformation, monopoly, and other similar concepts and processes [cf., D. M. Armstrong's knowledge-based theory of perception, and his discussion of three other theories of perception: realism, representationalism, and phenomenalism; Armstrong asserts that any complete theory of perception must be able to answer questions concerning the nature of bodily sensations, dreams, and mental imagery]. The behavior theory of perception is based on the association, or stimulus-response (S-R), notion of the linkage of a stimulus or stimulus-pattern to a response/reaction and the gradual strengthening of such a connection. In this approach, learning involves the increasing of habit strength where the strengthening takes place through repeated trials accompanied by reinforcement (i.e., need-state or drive-reduction). Another notion in learning theory (e.g., Tol-man, 1932) has relevance to perception theory where the organism learns meanings and relationships rather than the specific movements required in a situation; i.e., the field, or stimulus-stimulus (S-S), type of theory. The S-S type of learning is related to perception by the similarity of acquisition of elements: in learning, cognitions are expected suddenly; and in perception, a percept is a very brief, all-or-none event as well. Thus, the cognitive and other aspects of S-S learning theory, in particular, seem to fit a phenomenological or perceptual frame of reference better than a physicalistic or S-R framework. However, S-S, field, or cognition-like theories have not succeeded in becoming general for all the phenomena of perception. Some of the S-S theories have almost completely discounted the evidence that past experience is an important determinant of perceptual behavior. In All-port's assessment, the S-S learning models of perception seem to lack in explicit reference, explanatory value, parsimony, and generaliza-bility. The cybernetic theory of perception is based on the modern development of technological communication and control systems (the term cybernetic means "helmsman," or "one who steers"). The specific contributions of cybernetics to the study of perception are relatively few, but the following cybernetic concepts and principles may prove fruitful, ultimately, to perceptual theory: open systems (involving terms such as "irreversibility," "steady state," and "negative entropy"), information, coding, feedback loops, negative feedback, oscillation, scanning, teleological mechanisms, and repeating circuits. The correspondence between some cybernetic concepts and perceptual/imagery phenomena is good, but other notions - such as digitalization of information in the nervous system, time limitations of the reverberating circuit, and scanning device - seem more dubious. On the whole, however, Allport suggests that the cybernetics theory has contributed valuable structural ideas and models for the theory of open systems and neurophysiology. After his appraisal of the major theories of perception, Allport concludes that most of the theories contain certain common generalizations - such as internal relatedness, self-closedness or circularity, and space/time building - and he asserts that such generalizations represent the most substantial insights that psychologists have into the nature of the perceptual act, and they account for the best explanations of why things appear as they do to the perceiver. See also ALLPORT'S THEORY OF ENESTRU-ENCE; ATTITUDE/ATTITUDE CHANGE, THEORIES OF; BERKELEY'S THEORY OF VISUAL SPACE PERCEPTION; CONTROL SYSTEMS AND THEORY; DYNAMOGENESIS, LAW OF; GESTALT THEORY/LAWS; HELSON'S ADAPTATIONLEVEL THEORY; HULL'S LEARNING THEORY; INFORMATION AND INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY; LASH-LEY'S THEORY; LEWIN'S FIELD THEORY; PARSIMONY, LAW/PRINCIPLE OF; PERCEPTION (I. GENERAL), THEORIES OF; PHI PHENOMENON; SPENCE'S THEORY; TOLMAN'S THEORY. REFERENCES

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